Mideast Report

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli soldier was killed and another seriously injured in southern Lebanon this week when they were mistakenly fired on by another group of Israel Defense Force soldiers.

The soldiers, belonging to the Givati brigade, were returning from patrol early Tuesday in the western sector of Israel's security zone.

The unit reportedly split into two groups because of a possible ambush while they were passing through overgrown terrain. At one point, one group thought that there was movement in the bushes and opened fire before realizing that it was the other group of Israeli troops.

Initial reports said the two units failed to maintain the required radio communications, a preventive measure against so-called "friendly fire."

The dead soldier was identified as Staff Sgt. Valery Ganzman, 22, of Upper Nazareth. Members of his family said Tuesday night that he had one week left of army service before his discharge.

The second soldier, who was taken to a hospital in Nahariya, was wounded in the chest and legs and was listed in serious but stable condition.

Israeli-U.S. missile intercepts its target

TEL AVIV (JPS) — The Arrow 2 anti-missile missile was test-fired Tuesday off the Mediterranean coast and destroyed a Scud-type target missile, officials said.

"The target was destroyed," said Moshe Keret, director-general of Israel Aircraft Industries, the main contractor of the joint U.S.-Israeli project.

The test began with the firing of a target missile from a ship in the Mediterranean, a defense official said. About four minutes later, the Arrow was launched from an air force base south of Tel Aviv.

The Arrow 2 tracked down the target missile and caught up to it. Officials said the Arrow warhead was detonated and the target missile was hit.

"The Israelis and the Americans were stunned. This meant that the Arrow had struck the target missile rather than merely coming up close to it and exploding," an Israeli official said.

The interception moves Israel closer to its plans to employ the first battery of an anti-missile defense system by the end of the decade.

Palestinian convicted for kidnapping role

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli military court has sentenced a Palestinian to 22 years in prison for aiding the Hamas terrorists who kidnapped and murdered Israeli Cpl. Nachshon Waxman two years ago.

Zakariya Lutfi Najib, 40, was convicted, among other things, of renting the house in a West Bank village north of Jerusalem where Waxman was held.

Waxman was killed Oct. 14, 1994, during a rescue attempt by Israeli commandos.

Three kidnappers and an Israeli officer, Capt. Nir Poraz, were also killed during the exchange of gunfire.

Waxman's parents were angered by Wednesday's sentence, saying that it was too lenient. Earlier this month, an Islamic militant was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in Waxman's kidnapping.

Ex-agent denies killing 2 terrorists

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A former member of Israel's domestic intelligence service has denied that he killed two Palestinian terrorists after their capture in 1984.

Former Shin Bet official Ehud Yatom said this week that he never told newspapers that he smashed the heads of two Palestinians who were involved in an April 1984 bus hijacking.

In a meeting with Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon, Yatom said he was misquoted in a recent interview with the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot.

Four Palestinian terrorists hijacked an Egged bus in 1984, threatening to kill the passengers. During a rescue raid, two of the terrorists were killed, along with one passenger.

Two other hijackers were captured and later died. Yatom told Yediot in July that the two were taken from the bus and spontaneously beaten.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that Yatom had been rebuked for speaking to the press without permission.

Victims of bombing recalled at memorial

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The victims of a Jerusalem bus bombing were remembered this week at the site of the attack in Jerusalem's northern neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol.

Four people, excluding the suicide bomber, were killed in the Aug. 21, 1995, attack on Jerusalem's No. 26 bus.

More than 100 were injured.

Among those killed was a former San Franciscan, Joan Davenny, 47, a teacher at a Jewish school in Woodbridge, Conn.

Hamas militants claimed responsibility for the attack.